Tips for Other Organizations Moving to the Virtual World

Organizing a virtual festival is quite different than an in person one – what a learning curve it was! Below are a few tips that we learned from our experience that we hope might help other folks who are exploring this space. 

  • One of the big things we learned was the value in honest marketing and outreach. We tried to use real, down to earth language with simple goals and this seemed to resonate. 
  • Remember – don’t over ask. With the virtual festival it was important for our content and the experience to be free and open to all; because foremost this was a celebration of the Cheat during incredibly difficult times. Fundraising requests were secondary to that mission. Folks who were able to donate did, and we did not want to pressure folks who weren’t in a position to, to do so. Remember there are many important causes right now and many folks are facing financial hardship.
  • Keep the social media sharing consistent but not over the top. Folks only open so many emails, and only engage with so many Facebook posts. Share the information clearly, through all of your outlets, but don’t go crazy with it! 
  • Think about the folks who aren’t on social media. We know that many of the Cheat River lovers don’t use Facebook or Instagram so making sure that all content could be accessed from the website or from Youtube was a priority. 
  • Be sure to ask the community to help share content to the right people – folks who would want to be “in the know” but might not already be on the mailing list or on Facebook. Having our board and volunteers share our posts to their personal pages really helped with reach. 
  • For our silent auction, we felt that having a good user interface with lots of options was key. We used and were very pleased; it was affordable and easy. Also, having lots of photos, full descriptions, and email alerts when bidders were outbid was crucial! 
  • Ask for help! We all have different gifts, skills and reserves of energy. You never know how an unexpected community member might be able to jump in and help transform your project. 
  • Finally, remember, we’re all going through a pandemic. So go easy on yourself and on the folks you’re working with. If you’re coordinating with someone over email and find yourself getting frustrated, just pick up the phone. Also adjust (or lower) your expectations for what is possible and reasonable in a given timeline, folks are managing many things right now so keep it supportive and show your gratitude!